NCWU Recognizes Outstanding Employees at 2024 Awards Ceremony

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University recently held its 2024 Annual Employee Awards and Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. The University’s Employee Awards ceremony provides recognition to coaches, faculty and staff for their years of service to the University and for exemplary service to the campus and community.

Wesleyan Service Awards

Recipients of the Wesleyan Service Award were Kimla Brandt, Carl Lewis, Margaret Love, Doreen Thierauf and Jay Quinan. These employees demonstrated outstanding service to the campus and/or community that was above and beyond their job responsibilities.

Kimla Brandt worked with Ascent Studios and their production of the locally filmed movie “RENNER.” She went above and beyond her job responsibilities to make sure the needs of their production crew and cast were taken care of during their stay at Wesleyan.

Dr. Carl Lewis donated a new bee hive to campus and went through the steps to become an affiliate university for Bee Campus USA. Through his efforts, NCWU is only 1 of 8 universities with this distinction in NC and only 1 of 170 in the nation.

Dr. Margaret Love, Dr. Doreen Thierauf and Dr. Jay Quinan are employees that donate much of their time practicing and performing with the Wesleyan Singers. The Wesleyan Singers not only perform at campus events, but they also perform in the community and have gone above and beyond their job functions.

Jefferson-Pilot Professorship Award

This year’s Jefferson-Pilot Professorship Award winner was Dr. Shannon Crowley who presented her Lecture on April 25th. Regarded as one of the highest honors and form of recognition a faculty member may receive, this award is designed for the faculty members scholarly contributions to their students, the campus, and their professional field of study. Nominations are made by Faculty Council and a grant is made available to the recipient for professional development.

Distinguished Staff Award

The Distinguished Staff Award was presented to Taylor Stone, Director of Student Success Services. This award is designed to honor those staff members who have exhibited outstanding work performance and/or service and dedication to the University or the community. Examples include, but are not limited to, outstanding program development, positive attitude in relationships with faculty, staff and students, noteworthy achievement or exemplary leadership on the campus or in the community.

Justin Clark was presented with the Inspirational Award honoring an employee who exemplifies a positive attitude and demeanor that is inspirational to students, faculty, staff, and the greater campus community. This person makes an extraordinary effort to support others whose efforts improve morale and positively impacts students, faculty, and staff as well as demonstrate the University’s core values.

Chuck Taylor Leadership Award

The Chuck Taylor Leadership Award was given to Mike Armbruster, Assistant Athletic Director, Internal Operations. This award is presented to employees who demonstrate and live the following: Principles of servant leadership; Building community by promoting a work environment that is respectful, collegial and supportive; Orienting goals and achievements in line with the University’s mission; Exhibiting strong stewardship of institutional resources (time, talent, financial); Developing a shared vision of institutional excellence; fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and creativity, which contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of productivity. This individual is also an effective leader of people.

Longevity Awards were also given to various full-time and part-time employees for their years of service.  Recognition was awarded in 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, etc. increments of service to the University for the contractual or fiscal year.

Also, our very own Coach John Brackett received a framed jersey in honor of his 800th win at Wesleyan. Coach John Brackett’s journey has come full circle, as an alumnus of Wesleyan. With his unparalleled dedication, remarkable achievements and lasting impact on the softball program, his 800th career win stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment, exceptional leadership and the lasting legacy he has created within the University.

Congratulations to all employees who were honored and we thank each employee for your dedication and commitment to NC Wesleyan University! For more information regarding Faculty and Staff Awards or to nominate an employee, visit

View the event photo gallery.

NCWU Becomes First Institution to Host “Science of Reading” Observation with NCICU

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University’s (NCWU) Teacher Education Program was visited by three representatives of the North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU). The visit was an effort to review how the Science of Reading was being implemented into NCWU’s nationally and state-accredited Teacher Education program, where instructors teach pre-service teachers the science and art of how to teach Reading in the elementary school setting.  The Science of Reading is a research-based methodology regarding the best practices to teach K-6 students how to read and comprehend. Dr. Lois M. Hart, Associate Professor of Education, explains “NCWU’s Teacher Education Program has restructured their reading classes to align with the Science of Reading research. Elementary education pre-service teachers are provided with teaching strategies and experiences that have been proven by research to result in producing readers who are able to read fluently and comprehend at high levels.”

dr kelvin spragley and

Dr. Kelvin Spragley, Director of Teacher Education and Diversity and Inclusion Liaison, along with education faculty, arranged a breakfast, campus tour, and mock pre-service teaching demonstrations for the visit, making NCWU the first institution to host an observation visit with NCICU. Students and education faculty had the unique opportunity of paneling with the NCICU visitors and discussed all of the changes in the Reading curriculum. This followed observations of both EDU 210: Introduction to Foundations of Reading, and EDU 312: Teaching K-2 Literacy.

NCWU’s Teacher Education Program takes pride in knowing that learning to teach Reading starts in their classroom courses, and then it is the pre-service teacher’s responsibility to spread these practices, to the best of their ability, in the K-6 classrooms. Dr. Hart says “Children’s potential to become successful in school begins with learning to read and comprehend at high levels. Teachers’ abilities to effectively deliver strong reading instruction begins with ensuring all teacher preparation programs implement scientifically based reading instruction to pre-service teachers.”

college students teaching in class setting
college students teaching in class setting

NCWU Receives Grant for Digital Humanities Teaching & Learning

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University recently received a $60K grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities. Over the two-year grant period, NCWU will expand the Digital Humanities Lab, create a new course (Introduction to Digital Humanities), improve faculty knowledge of the digital humanities, incorporate local history into digital humanities projects, and promote undergraduate student research projects using digital humanities tools and methods. The proposed expansion of NCWU’s digital humanities programming is aligned with the institution’s mission and commitment to the eastern North Carolina region and its emphasis on innovative teaching approaches to use new information technologies.

Project co-directors, Dr. Jason W. Buel (Communication/Media Arts) and Dr. Shane M. Thompson (Religious Studies) established NCWU’s first Digital Humanities Lab as a physical space on campus to raise the profile of the University’s humanities, with the goal to make them more exciting, accessible, and modern to the general student population.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Joseph H. Lane, Jr., states “We are very excited that Dr. Thompson and Dr. Buel have received this grant. Their work in the area of digital humanities is the perfect example of the ways that North Carolina Wesleyan enriches our students’ lives with innovative teaching approaches that take advantage of the amazing new tools that can enrich our classrooms and our contributions to the community.”

The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 created the National Endowment for the Humanities as an independent federal agency. The law identified the need for a national cultural agency that would preserve America’s rich history and cultural heritage, and encourage and support scholarship and innovation in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and other humanities disciplines. The Endowment awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers.

About The National Endowment For The Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

Pfizer Executive and Site Lead announced as NCWU Commencement Speaker

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – On May 4, 2024, North Carolina Wesleyan University will celebrate its Spring Commencement with more than 300 graduates. This year’s commencement speaker will be Dr. Kara Renai King who is the Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals– Rocky Mount facility.

Dr. Kara Renai King, Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

As Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer, Dr. King is responsible for one of the largest sterile injectable facilities in the world, with more than 1.4 million square feet of manufacturing space on 250 acres in Eastern North Carolina. Nearly 25 percent of Pfizer’s sterile injectables used in U.S. hospitals are produced at the site.  A wide range of products are produced at Rocky Mount, including anesthesia, analgesia, therapeutics, anti-infectives and neuromuscular blockers. These products are available in small volume presentations, such as ampules, vials and syringes. More than 200 million units are processed at the Rocky Mount site annually to help treat patients around the world.

Dr. King holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Hampton University, a Masters’s degree in Cell Biology & Biotechnology from University of the Sciences, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University.

Dr. King is recognized as an expert on leadership who has extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical industry in both traditional and contract development manufacturing organizations. Her experience ranges from early drug product development to commercial operations. She has held leadership roles in Quality, Tech Ops and Drug Product Operations (from bulk product manufacturing to finishing). She joined Pfizer in 2021 following successful leadership roles with Minaris Regenerative Medicine and Merck.

Dr. King delivers value to organizations through her servant leadership style complimented by her strong foundation in science, strategic mindset, and the ability to create an environment that fosters joy, creativity and innovation. Hallmarks of her leadership are building high performing teams, elevating leadership capability, and delivering results.

“We are looking forward to Dr. King’s address to our Class of 2024. Under her leadership, Pfizer and NCWU have forged a strong partnership that provides extraordinary opportunities to Wesleyan’s students and graduates, and that partnership was made stronger by our shared efforts to overcome the devastation of last summer’s tornado.  Dr. King’s approach to leadership and strategic vision will provide an inspiring example to our graduates,” stated President Dr. Evan D. Duff.

“I’m humbled and excited to stand before the talent of the future from NC Wesleyan University at this year’s 2024 Commencement,” noted Dr. King.

Dr. King has long demonstrated engagement in and solicitude for the community in which she lives and works. She utilizes her skills, experience and resources to invest in the local community and help others achieve their dreams.  Among her many community service activities, Dr. King sits on the boards of Eastern University and the International Leadership Association (ILA), and she serves as the Treasurer for Silver Lining Sports.

Faculty Member Earns Advanced Credential in Sports Science

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Exercise Science faculty member, Vanessa Batchelor, recently earned an advanced credential through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Performance and Sport Scientist® (CPSS®). This highly regarded certification in Exercise and Sport Science fields emphasizes applying scientific principles to improve athletic performance and prevent injury.

This enhancement to Batchelor’s credentials expands her certified skill sets in research, statistics, and data analytics as they apply to sport. She earned her initial strength and conditioning certification—NCSA’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®)—in 2018. Batchelor is a 2016 alumna of North Carolina Wesleyan, earning a B.S. in Exercise Science, and earned an M.S. in Exercise Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2019.

This CPSS® credential opens a variety of future career avenues for Batchelor, who has served as a Visiting Instructor of Exercise Science since the fall of 2022, and as the North Carolina Wesleyan Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach since 2021. CPSS®-certified scientists are hired as qualified Sports Science Coordinators or Directors, Sports Performance Analysts, or research and data scientists for sports teams/organizations at the collegiate or professional level, research organizations, or private practices. 

From left: Dr. Meir Magal, Chair of the School of Math and Science and Program Coordinator for Exercise Science; Vanessa Batchelor, Visiting Instructor of Exercise Science; Tim Dornemann, Associate Professor of Exercise Science. (Photo by Jordan Stone/University Photographer)

Batchelor added that her certifications set North Carolina Wesleyan’s programs apart from other small universities by utilizing recently acquired top-of-the-line advanced sport science technology to its full extent—enriching the student and student athlete experience over other small NCAA DIII institutions. Her advanced credentials will also significantly enhance the academic and athletic experiences of North Carolina Wesleyan’s current students through her mentorship of student interns, applying a hands-on approach with student research, and designing unique learning experiences using advanced technological resources.

Working directly with exercise science students at North Carolina Wesleyan, Batchelor has helped foster the major’s active undergraduate research program—yielding several student presentations at the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine (SEACSM) and ACSM annual meetings and a 2023 publication in Gazzetta Medica Italiana-Archivio per le Scienze Mediche she co-authored with students and colleagues at North Carolina Wesleyan.

Dr. Meir Magal, Chair of the School of Math and Science and Program Coordinator for Exercise Science acknowledges the added value Batchelor brings to the Exercise Science program and coaching staff.  “I am very excited to have Vanessa on the exercise science team. With her extensive education, wealth of experience, and the attainment of this challenging and quality NSCA certification, she brings a unique and valuable perspective to the program.”

University Recognized by ACSM’s Exercise is Medicine® Program

NCWU among 145 Campuses Honored Worldwide 

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University is one of only 145 universities and colleges around the world to be honored by Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on its campus. Faculty/Staff Personal Training, Wesleyan Wellness initiatives, the Walk with the President, the Lunch and Learn Series for Health, and other physical activity events conducted by the NCWU Health and Movement Science Club helped NCWU earn Silver level designation from the Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) program. Exercise is Medicine is a community-impact initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine.

“We are thrilled to recognize these campuses’ commitment to make movement a part of daily campus culture and give students the tools to cultivate physical activity habits that will benefit them throughout their lives,”said interim CEO Katie Feltman, CAE. “These campus programs are nurturing future leaders who will advance a key tenet of Exercise is Medicine: making physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in health care.” 

“We are excited to have received the EIM-OC Silver distinction for the fifth year in a row! This distinction was made possible by the collaborative efforts of our students, faculty, staff, and administration, who continue to support our efforts to promote the health benefits of physical activity on campus,” said Dr. Shannon Crowley, Associate Professor of Public Health, and Exercise is Medicine on Campus program advisor. 

Of the 145 campuses recognized this year, 83 received Gold, 44 received Silver and 18 received Bronze. All Gold, Silver and Bronze universities and colleges will be officially recognized on May 29 at the EIM recognition ceremony at ACSM’s Annual Meeting.

EIM-OC calls upon universities and colleges to promote physical activity as a vital sign of health and encourages faculty, staff and students to work together to improve the health and well-being of the campus community.  

EIM-OC launched its recognition program in 2014 to honor campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness. Schools earn Gold, Silver or Bronze status based on their activities. Gold level campuses have created a referral system where campus health care providers assess student physical activity and refer students as necessary to a certified fitness professional as part of medical treatment. Silver campuses engage students, faculty and staff in education initiatives and make movement part of the daily campus culture while Bronze level campuses promote and generate awareness of the health benefits of physical activity.  

About Exercise Is Medicine 
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) co-launched Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) in 2007 with the American Medical Association. ACSM continues to manage the global health initiative, which seeks to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health care with evidence-based physical activity resources for people everywhere of all abilities. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health, is integral in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions and should be regularly assessed and included as part of health care. Visit for additional information. 

About the American College of Sports Medicine 
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. More details at  

Wesleyan Competes in Ethics Bowl Competition

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Eighteen teams from NCICU campuses participated in the competition this year. The 2024 theme was, “Ethics in Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity.” Students had to consider several complicated cases involving both artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, then make their arguments about their position on the case.

Final scores were tallied, semi-finalists were announced, and the two matches set: Queens University and High Point University were paired, as were St. Augustine’s University and Montreat College. Queens and Montreat met in the finals, where Queens University prevailed.

North Carolina Wesleyan lost close matches to Pfeiffer, Mars Hill, High Point, and Montreat. The Battling Bishops ethics team included Landon Duff, Fabio Felli, Amanda Modlin, Matthew Tiller, Noah Larkin, and Clarence Alex Sanderford who where led by Professors Jason Buel and Shane Thompson.

“We are so proud of our excellent Ethics Bowl Team as well as their coaches, Dr. Buel and Dr. Thompson.  These young people have taken the time and initiative to generate a considerable body of research on one of the pressing ethical dilemmas of our times.  Although we think they probably deserved to win more matches than they did, we know they represented us well and demonstrated the power of a North Carolina Wesleyan education in their presentations”, stated Provost Dr. Joe Lane.

“This year’s teams were exceptional,” said NCICU President Hope Williams. “It was clear they had done extensive research on the complex topics and developed well-organized, cohesive arguments to present to the judges. I was very impressed with all the teams.”

This was NCICU’s 13th Ethics Bowl. Williams believes it provides unique, important opportunities for the students. “By participating in the Ethics Bowl, students learn research and presentation skills that will serve them well in their careers,” Williams said.

But the most valuable opportunity, she noted, may have been interacting with the more than 70 professionals who volunteered their time as judges or moderators and who represent many networking opportunities and careers, from law, architecture, engineering and cybersecurity to banking, nonprofits, and state agencies.

Clark Dudek, a Triangle entrepreneur and AI expert, was keynote speaker at the dinner on Friday night at the North Carolina Museum of History. He discussed how society has adapted to emerging technologies. “AI is new and may be scary,” he said. “But we are working on how to connect with this new tool and learn how it can complement the rest of our tools.”

U.S. News & World Report Ranks NC Wesleyan Among Best Online MBA Programs

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University (NCWU) has been ranked among the 2024 Best Online Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) by U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News assessed schools in the Best Online MBA Programs category based on a variety of objective factors, such as student engagement, faculty credentials, as well as services and technologies. According to their website, NC Wesleyan University was among more than 1,800 programs surveyed and only regionally accredited institution whose programs are offered mostly or entirely online were evaluated.

Professor Dr. Paul Ewell, Program Coordinator for the MBA program states, “Our MBA is more than a degree. It’s a gateway to the future of business.

“You’ll learn from the best and brightest in the field, and apply your skills to real-world challenges. You’ll also enjoy the flexibility and convenience of a program that fits your lifestyle and goals”, stated Ewell.

NC Wesleyan’s Master of Business Administration program is one of the most popular graduate programs at the University and was recently is one of the only private, non-profit universities currently offering an online MBA degree in the eastern NC region. The program is very affordable and offers many benefits including: rolling admissions with 100% online classes starting every eight weeks, finish in as little as 12 months, one-on-one mentoring, supportive faculty who have real-world experience offering applied assignments and career assistance. The program offers concentrations in Information Security, Executive Leadership, and Supply Chain Management. The program was also named by Forbes as One of the 10 Best Online MBA Programs of 2023! To learn more about admission requirements and curriculum information, visit

Prospective students can see how NCWU compares to other institutions and how the rankings are calculated on

About U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives and communities. A multifaceted digital media company with Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars, News, Real Estate and 360 Reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Biancur Candidate for United Soccer Coaches Board of Directors Vice President

Beverly Biancur, NCWU Women’s Soccer Coach

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – NCWU Women’s Soccer Coach, Beverly A. Biancur was chosen as one of five candidates for the position of Vice President to serve on the United Soccer Coaches Board of Directors.

The United Soccer Coaches by-laws require all elections for Board of Directors positions to include two to five candidates on the final ballot. In this case, Biancur was incredibly honored to be one of five represented. To ensure integrity, voting was completed by the third-party service, Intelliscan. Personalized ballots were sent out via email to members of United Soccer Coaches beginning on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Voting concluded on January 12.

While Biancur did not win, she felt incredibly appreciated stating, “I was honored to be nominated and hope to remain in consideration for future positions”. Winner, Nancy Feldman, was the former Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Boston University. “Nancy will do an exceptional job on the Board,” Biancur noted.

Serving on the Board of Directors is the ultimate way for a coach to give back to the association and the game as a whole. Feldman will have a six-year cycle on the Board. During that time, she will spend four years as Vice President, ascend to President and then serve a final year on the Board as Past President.

Currently in her sixteenth year at the University, Biancur has been Head Coach of NCWU Women’s Soccer for twelve years. In all, she boasts over twenty-five years of coaching experience at the collegiate, high school and club levels. Her podcast has gained a lot of interest from the coaching body and is available on the United Soccer Coaches Podcast.

Dr. Ami Thompson featured in The Naturalist Publication

Ami Thompson, Ph.D., NCWU Assistant Professor of Biology, recently traveled to Ohio to present a workshop with her colleagues Melissa Sanchez Herrera, and freelance biologist Sandra Hunt von Arb. They discussed the migration mysteries of the Common Green Darner dragonfly. U.S. Forest Service administrators Karin Theophile and Mike Rizo also accompanied them. 

During the workshop, they performed tests and collected data that will inform future international dragonfly conservation & research and hopefully reveal clues about the mystery of migration. 

VIEW PDF OF ENTIRE ARTICLE  By Ray Novotny, Naturalist Emeritus, Mill Creek Metroparks

For more information: 
Ami Thompson – Dragonfly Website

Check out The Naturalist Newsletter, The Naturalist is the official newsletter of NAI’s Interpretive Naturalist Section. Find articles, news, tips & tricks, best practices, and more written by Interpretive Naturalists for Interpretive Naturalists! 

How did scientists first come know that dragonflies migrate? This video below highlights one of the first published observations of the phenomenon and tells you where you can go to observe raptor and dragonfly migration, in Minnesota.